Wearnes Automotive Volvos: A safe bet for the younger generation
Volvos have always been known for one thing—safety. And while Wearnes Automotive doesn’t want to change that reputation, the largest group of Volvo dealerships in Thailand does want to appeal to a younger target audience. The introduction of Volvo’s new 60 platform, including the V60 wagon, S60 sedan and X60 SUV has been very successful in the Thai market so far, said Seah Moon Hua, the executive director at Wearnes. “We will continue to champion the safety features of Volvo because that is our core value,” said Mr Seah. “But we are also focusing on young executives who may not have kids. That is why we are rolling out our new V40 hatchback models next quarter. We now offer a range of models that are more exciting to the younger generation. They are more than just a square box; they have a wow factor.” Wearnes doesn’t alter its branding message much for Thais, but it has taken note of Thai consumer priorities, of which interior and exterior styling is the most important. “The cars also have to come loaded with the features they want, and handling and safety are also priorities,” he said. “Volvo has continued to design safety innovations, but some involve electronics these days. We have a feature that can detect pedestrians in order to avoid collisions. Engineers have reinforced the car’s body so that it curves inward upon impact to minimize the force, which reduces the likelihood of injury. The side doors have also been reinforced.” The past few years, Volvo sales in Thailand have been growing by 30-40%, he said. And Mr Seah is optimistic about the future of Volvo in the kingdom for a number of reasons. Firstly, he expects Thailand’s economy to keep growing at a steady pace, especially as it becomes more knowledge-based. Mr Seah also feels there is much potential for growth in the premium segment. He added that he predicts the new ownership of Volvo by Chinese firms will produce a greater range of more exciting products.
“[In] the past few years, Volvo sales in Thailand have been growing by 30-40%”
Remarkably, the Singapore-based Wearnes group has been in Southeast Asia for over a century. It runs four of the seven Volvo dealerships in Bangkok, and has a wide range of branches throughout the region. Wearnes trumpets this experience in its marketing message. “We know our product better than anyone in Thailand,” he said. “And we know the customers that prefer Volvos as well, as we’ve been selling here for a decade. Volvos have always done well families that have kids, because of our focus on safety.” In fact, market research indicates some Thais are not familiar with the Volvo brand, so much of the promotional budget this year is going toward marketing activities that introduce Thais to Volvo.
“We also need to make sure we have a broader model mix so that we can appeal to all our customers’ needs,” said Mr Seah.
Wearnes is also the only Volvo dealer in Thailand that offers diplomat sales, which are targeted at embassies, international organisations and non-governmental organisations. Sales in this popular segment are tax- exempt and the cars are imported directly from Sweden. Orders take four months for delivery, and several kinds of modifications can be indicated.
Seah Moon Hua